On Friday morning (Nov. 26), officials from The Meadowlands released a statement regarding changes implemented to address the length of racing cards and to improve competitiveness of the races themselves.
The statement, in its entirety, follows.
The Meadowlands remains committed to making our product the best it can be. There are a few changes on the horizon as we respond to the input of our customer, the horseplayer.
Long a point of contention has been the length of the racing card. While the placement of our live races to avoid direct competition is a key element of maximizing handle, the flip side is that we are putting on 5-1/2-hour marathons.
In an attempt to find the formula that will best serve both, The Meadowlands will begin to shorten the time between races. The horses will still be coming on to the track at one or zero minutes to post and we will continue to drag 6-8 minutes after they do, but there will be considerably less time from the end of one race until the horses come out for the next. For example, two minutes shaved from between 13 races should shorten the card up by 25-30 minutes.
This experiment will be tweaked over time to find the best way to maintain handle while getting everyone home a little earlier on race night.
A second initiative being addressed is the competitiveness of the races themselves. Jeff Gural has met with the drivers several times to discuss the policies and practices that have resulted in the races too often being boring and predictable.
Thus far, there is a recognizable difference to the racing style with fewer early "courtesy tucks" and in turn, more contested racing. Winter racing sees the driver colony evolve as several of the regulars head South or take their tack to other tracks, which annually provides an opportunity for others to take their shot racing at The Meadowlands.
With the new policies in place and the likely invasion of some younger drivers seeking to make their mark, hopefully the product will continue to improve and we will once again have the style of racing that allows horses to come from behind.